About the Center

McGreal Center Goals

Director and Staff

Volume I US Dominican History

Volume I


In Our Keeping
Historians and Archivists Conference Provokes New Thinking about Dominican History

Barbara Beaumont

Sr. Barbara Beaumont, OP

River Forest, IL - June 15, 2008- Over 35 archivists, historians and congregational personnel gathered at Dominican University, June 12-15, 2008, to explore new thinking and insight into how Dominican history is not only recorded, but also how we think about our past.

Participants came from as far away as Norway and the Phillippines.

The In Our Keeping Conference, conducted by the McGreal Center for Dominican Historical Studies, explored questions of how we come to tell the stories and convey the values of congregational Dominican history, separating mythology from facts and bringing a scientific discipline to the task of telling the Dominican story.

The conference was last held eight years ago and since then, the ways scholars share information and understand the connections of Dominican history have grown exponentially.

Barbara Beaumont, OP director of the S.H.O.P project at Fanjeaux, (Sister Historians of the Order of Preachers), offered a keynote address on The Study of History in the Transmission of Dominican Values. In her talk she explored the distinctions that need to be made between the urgencies of the time of a particular foundation and the founding charism of the Order. The founding charism and mission have been followed by new layers of meaning and we must see history as dynamic and evolving. She said, "The study of the past is preparation for the future journey. The point of departure is as important as the destination."

Sue Thompson
Margaret Susan Thompson

In describing some of the catastrophic events of the Order, such as the suppression of the Dominicans during the French Revolution and the deportation of Czechoslovakian Dominicans to labor camps in the 1950s, Barbara noted that these events would never be studied if we looked upon history as something to be locked up and held in a drawer for safe keeping, with no one to interprete their meaning or expose the lives that were led. (Barbara's talk with be posted when it becomes available).

Margaret Susan Thompson, Associate Professor of History, Syracuse University offered an engaging and eye-opening look at some of the history of religious life from the perspective of someone not in religious life. "Insiders and Outsiders: Complementary Lenses into the History of Religious Orders," encouraged participants to view the darker side of the history of religious life as illuminative of the human condition. She noted that some of the most enduring values of a community are born out of the frailties and hardships of the founders. (Susan's talk is available here). Her workshop: How to “Make History: Recounting the Religious Past" is available here.

Liesl Orenic
Liesl Orenic

In a third major talk, Liesl Orenic, Director of the American Studies Program, Dominican University offered stimulating insight and practical considerations of Preserving Today’s Story for Tomorrow – a Case for the Art of Oral History. Other presentations included material from Cecilia Murray, OP and Nicole Wilson, a converstion about the McGreal Center, the future of congregational archives within the Dominican Family with Mary Ellen O'Grady, OP and archival preservation decisions and practices with Steven Szegdi from Dominican University.

Janet Welsh, OP (Sinsinawa) Interim Director of the McGreal Center for Dominican Historical Studies, along with her staff, coordinated and planned the program. the program included a visit to the Chicago History Museum to visit an exhibit on Catholic Chicago, a concert in Millenium Park and festive banquet.

Dominican Leadership Conference

Building relationships and collaborating in the mission of preaching the Gospel.
816 Marengo Avenue Third Floor, Forest Park, IL
708-366-1796 Contact: Executive Director
DLC is the networking organization for elected leaders of Dominican congregations and provinces in the United States.